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Microsoft’s European antitrust point man leaves for Apple

A key Microsoft European spokesman has defected to Apple for a government affairs job

Apple is said to be bringing on a public affairs specialist with years of experience helping Microsoft in its battle with the European Commission’s competition regulators.

Tom Brookes, Microsoft’s Brussels-based spokesman on antitrust matters, has resigned his partnership position at the public affairs consultancy G-Plus, and his responsibility for the Microsoft account, and is understood to be joining Apple, according to people who work closely with him.

Brookes declined to comment about the move, but confirmed he is leaving G-Plus after almost four years with the consultancy. Previously he worked for APCO, a large American public affairs and public relations consultancy, where he began his relationship with Microsoft. He brought the client with him when he joined G-Plus in 2004, and has been the main mouthpiece for Microsoft in Brussels ever since the March 2004 antitrust ruling against the company.

Microsoft is “working on a transition,” said Jesse Verstraete, EU communications manager at Microsoft. Verstraete wouldn’t say if the designated spokesman would be someone in a consultancy or someone in-house.

According to a source at G-Plus who asked not to be named, Microsoft will continue to work with the business. “There are other well qualified people, including two former aides to competition commissioners [Neelie Kroes and her predecessor Mario Monti], in the G-Plus team,” the person said.

Apple declined to comment on Brookes’ imminent arrival. He is understood to be starting his new job in the government affairs department in two weeks, and is not expected to play any public relations role for the company.